By KAYLA KNAPP
CARSON, Calif.– There wasn’t much the reigning MLS champions could do to contain the speed and skill of La Liga champions Real Madrid on Thursday night.
The Los Angeles Galaxy fell to Real Madrid 5-1 in front of a record crowd of 30,317 at the Home Depot Center, with L.A.’s only goal coming from defender David Junior Lopes in the 23rd minute. While the Galaxy centerback was happy with the crowd and his goal, he recognized the backline wasn't playing as they should be.
"I’m not sure what happened on the field, but there wasn’t a lot of communication," Lopes said. "At the league level, we communicate well, but tonight there wasn’t.”
The Madrid goalfest started early, when Angel Di Maria finished a pass from Gonzalo Higuain in just the 2nd minute. But it certainly didn’t end there. Di Maria notched one of his own in the 11th minute, beating Galaxy goalkeeper Josh Saunders from the right side of the box.
The Galaxy pulled one back soon after, as in the 23rd minute, David Beckham played a cross into the box, and Omar Gonzalez headed it across the goal line. Lopes was there waiting, and he calmly played the ball into the back of the net with his torso.
That was about as good as it got for the Galaxy. Di Maria and Higuain took advantage of inexperienced Galaxy rookie Bryan Gaul, as attack after attack was made down the right wing at the left back.
In the 36th minute, Jose Maria Callejon slipped in behind the L.A. defense, and Higuain played a perfectly weighted ball to him. Callejon beat Saunders with ease, making it 3-1 Madrid.
After the halftime break, both sides trotted out completely different lineups; L.A. resting their starters and Madrid putting in their stars — in particular, crowd-favorite Cristiano Ronaldo.
The second half saw more of the same from Real Madrid, with goals from Alvaro Morata in the 49th minute and Jese Rodriguez in the 84th minute. Madrid coach Jose Mourinho was very pleased with his team's performance on Thursday night.
"I could see some of the things we work on [in training], and I could see basically that the team wants again to succeed," Mourinho said. "The boys want to do well, want to work hard."
The Galaxy created a few chances, but nothing significant to really test Madrid. But, as Galaxy coach Bruce Arena made clear after the game, this exhibition was not about the result.
"Going into the night I don’t think anyone’s expectations were that the Galaxy was going to be at the level of Madrid. I think that we demonstrated enough quality. For me, you never could have put this game on 15 years ago playing the younger players we played in the second half," Arena said. "There’s tremendous growth in this league, but there needs to be some patience. But I think as an exhibition, it was outstanding. It was a great night for the fans and it was productive for both clubs."